Emerald Art Glass House by Fisher ARCHitecture Pittsburgh PA

The Emerald Art Glass House is a site-sensitive, cantilevered home for the owners of a glass company. This is contextual design: Located on Pittsburgh’s South Side slopes, it floats above the owner’s glass manufacturing facility like a foreman’s shack.

The home’s industrial forms and Cor10 steel siding relate to the factory below while a living roof connects the house visually to the verdant slopes beyond. In a building this public, it’s possible to make larger references: Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods are cut off from one another both geographically and culturally. The new horizontally massed house and the US Steel tower, Pittsburgh’s tallest building, are Cor-10 steel peers. Together, they establish a small but meaningful new dialogue between the residential slopes and the commercial city center.

Glass products are featured throughout, celebrating the owner’s craft: A radical, north-facing, butted, “Greenheat” radiant-heated GLASS facade functions from outside as a sign for the glass factory and from inside as a view catcher. A unique, glass rain-screen system clads a concrete block core. Inside the core, a glass stairway winds its way from the ground floor to the kitchen

And it’s green: 21st century architects must learn to recycle space in the same way we recycle our garbage – finding value in waste. Here, we are putting to use the unused space above the owner’s warehouse in this dense urban neighborhood. Recycled materials are used throughout. As well, geothermal well-generated forced air complements the radiant heated floors and glass.

Extending three times farther than nearby Falling Water, the Emerald Art Glass House may be the world’s longest residential cantilever. As Jean Paul Sartre once wrote, ‘The human body always extends across the tool that it utilizes: it is at the end of the telescope, which shows me the stars; it is my adaptation to those tools. When a structure cantilevers in a daring way, we imagine ourselves leaning out over the space below, which explains why it moves us. This is the thing with feathers, an object that disrupts daily life just enough to make one believe that there is maybe more to life than the humdrum.